“Proper Omelette." The title of Emma Jääskeläinen’s artwork realized for the third edition of the Kiasma Commission by Kordelin tells a lot about the artist's approach to sculpture, about her interest in everyday household items, and her humorous attitude. “The starting point of my work is from personal memories and loved ones," Emma Jääskeläinen explains. At the entrance to the museum, the artist has installed two massive stone sculptures representing two hands and a giant circle made of felt. The stone lying on the floor was inspired by her grandmother, an influential figure in Emma Jääskeläinen’s life, who represents motherhood. The other one, leaning on the wall, was inspired by her older brother playing guitar and practicing for hours. They are heavy, tired hands, but they do not look ravaged, they rather look like from of a comic-book. The large woolen circle above the museum’s staircase seems like the sun setting on a mountain landscape, but it is stuck on a tree branch and cannot come off. Or maybe it is a potholder, inspired by her grandmother's potholder collection. Emma Jääskeläinen is not the kind of artist who likes univocal interpretations. In another room, the visitor comes upon on a fourth element: a tree branch with some stone eggs from the artist's collection.

“For this installation, I thought specifically about pains in the body from childbirth, or hours of playing an instrument,” Emma Jääskeläinen explains. “The sun is also a giant buttock that is stuck on the stick like when you sometimes fall on the cold metal bar of the bicycle. The egg tree is some old, stiff spine. The ensemble of sculptures refers to ordinary moments, objects found at home, and a body being in a state of change. There is a standstill as the woolen sun cannot set, but it also can be a moment before something happens: hatching eggs, a mother showing her spikes as a warning, the hot sun melting the branch...”

Emma Jääskeläinen, Heavy Pick, Norwegian rose marble, © Finnish National Gallery: Petri Virtanen

At the centre of Emma Jääskeläinen's practice is the sculpting process, which takes shape from a conversation with the material. “The idea I have for the stone is always a proposal," she explains. "The stone answers, guides, fights back, or collaborates. Slow carving and concentrating on a task in a time where efficiency and productivity are valued assets seems important and also ecological. Using old techniques also implies that maybe innovations are not always sustainable. I devote myself to a process without being certain about the result because I try to listen and learn from the material, to respect it, and so navigate in the process.”

Emma Jäääskeläinen, Sunset Sweater, Wool, bronze, New Year’s tin, stone, paint, © The Finnish National Gallery: Petri Virtanen

For the first time, on the occasion of the Kiasma Commission by Kordelin, the artist chose not to work on the small scale and with leftovers, as she usually does, but to work on a large scale, a change that provoked new thoughts about the origin of the stone and the industrial processes involved. Differently from the previous works, which used to be installed on pedestals, the works at Kiasma seem more approachable and feel like useful things, things to lean on perhaps. “I hope that at first, one might see a large sculpture and then notice the small details," Emma Jääskeläinen explains," such as the snippets, collected stones, stone eggs, and soft felt needles. They are the heroes of the story. These fragile add-ons bring a different time frame to the artwork; something static and something changing.”

Emma Jäääskeläinen, Eggs-Files, Bronze, stone eggs, © The Finnish National Gallery: Petri Virtanen

Emma Jääskeläinen is not interested in the monumentality of sculpture. On the contrary, the artist wants to break free from the idea that sculpture lasts forever, or that it is something only masculine. “My challenge is to do this ultimate macho carving in such a way that the result doesn’t look like macho, serious, great landmarks, but somehow cute, soft, warm, distorted, tickles you to laugh. The forms of the sculptures are clumsy, out of proportion, implying a process instead of maquettes and measurements, like monuments. By repeating this process of manual carving and changing it a bit, making the body (which has always been the subject in her art) more abstract and not recognizable as a human thing gives more options for interpretation, more room for a different kind of body. I also want to show the nature of the materials, not polishing them too much, leaving them rough”.

Emma Jääskeläinen, Heavy Pick, Norwegian rose marble, © Finnish National Gallery: Petri Virtanen

The body in Emma Jääskeläinen’s works is fragmented, like a piece of a puzzle. In a way, it recalls those fragments of colossal statues from ancient Rome, but they have lost their severity. One of her first sculptures—and a sort of turning point in her production—was a sculpture of buttocks. The artist first made it out of balloons. "I brought it to my aunt's birthday party when she turned 60, and I asked my relatives to touch it. It was a sort of social sculpture," she recalls. "I made many of them, and I became obsessed with buttocks, so the last thing I had to do to own this form was to make it out of stone. It became the sculpture of a sculpture.”